Guide to Edinburgh Cocktail Bars
There now exists a “Big 3” of Cocktail Capitals in the UK: London, Manchester and Edinburgh. These 3 cities are home to some of the best cocktail bars in Europe, if not the world and Edinburgh cocktail bars deservedly make that shortlist, with some of the most original and innovative cocktail menus on offer anywhere on the planet. The breathtaking quality and variety of Edinburgh bars in general has meant that Edinburgh nightlife is attracting party-goers from right across the country.
Liquid Heart of the City
Beginning in Edinburgh city centre, you will not have to walk far to sample some of the great cocktail drinks that Edinburgh cocktail bars have to offer. Thistle Street is where you will find the highly acclaimed The Bon Vivant. This is a popular Edinburgh bar / restaurant, where you are always guaranteed a lively atmosphere and friendly bar staff who really know their cocktails. Popular on their menu is the Gin Old Fashioned, the classic Americano, or why not try their signature Ginger Tommy, which is a fantastic mix of Tequila, Ginger Liqueur, Lime Juice, Agave Syrup and Orange Bitters.
A few minutes away from The Bon Vivant, you will find the popular Rick`s cocktail bar located on Frederick Street, which has been a mainstay of Edinburgh nightlife for the decade. The menu is eclectic & impressive and shows the input of a creative and expert mixologist. It is split into classics (Martini, Bloody Mary etc) refreshers & coolers, daiquiris, sours and retro drinks. With over ten successful years under its belt, Rick’s has clearly found a winning formula that will stand the test of time.
Take a short walk up to the famous George Street and you will find a couple of trendy locations where the “beautiful people” of Edinburgh nightlife go to drink their cocktails. Tigerlily really has to be visited to experience the sheer opulence of the place. Dazzling chandeliers, shimmering mirrors, art nouveau and fantastically designed furniture come together with some of the tastiest cocktails in town, served by attentive and experienced staff. The bar does a great range of Champagne Cocktails, all the classics and some of their own creations such as their signature Tigerlily Cocktail. A sister bar to Tigerlily, Candy Kitchen and Bar is perfectly located in the middle of George Street and features a very convenient outdoor area, perfect for some Saturday people-watching. The bar has a great range of cocktails,with some particularly good martini selections such as the Watermelon Martini and their popular Peacock Cocktail, a house creation of raspberry vodka, Midori, Lime and Sugar, laced with Grenadine and Blue Bols.
Just a 5 minute walk over to Hanover Street you will find the popular 99 Hanover Street, which has recently undergone a revamp and an updated cocktail menu. From all the Edinburgh bars serving great cocktails with music, it doesn’t get much better than this. From their Vivienne Westwood-esque Union Jack sofas to the sculptural glass chandeliers, you know you have arrived somewhere a little bit special. Make sure you try their amazing rendition of the prohibition classic Sidecar or their current House special cocktail, the Blue Grass Sour.
As we continue our tour of Edinburgh Cocktail Bars, we take a quick skip around the corner from 99 Hanover Street to Bramble Bar Lounge, which regularly gets voted one of the best cocktail bars in the world. This intimate cocktail bar, located in a basement, may not be the biggest location in town but the cocktails on offer are nothing short of magic. Try its list of recommended gin & tonic combinations or some of its wonderful unique creations such as the Saint or the popular Bramble, a delightful combination of Plymouth Gin, Creme de Mures, Fresh Lemon Juice, Sugar Syrup. Do not try to experience Edinburgh nightlife without a visit to this bar!
About a 15 minute walk either direction from Bramble Bar and you will find Sygn Bar or The Voodoo Rooms. Sygn Bar, situated up on Charlotte Lane, is one of those Edinburgh cocktail bars to get glammed up for and also serves some of the finest cocktails in the city.Try its range of Daiquiris or its Flower Power house special. It can get busy at weekends so its wise sometimes to book ahead. Over on the other side of the city sits one of our favourite cocktail spots, The Voodoo Rooms. This is another one of several award winning Edinburgh bars, this one set in an old Victorian building and it pulls off a perfect mix of glamorous surroundings, live entertainment and fantastic cocktails. Drinks are put into sub-categories with headers such as ‘Season of the Witch’, ‘Asian Sorcerers’ and ‘Cult of Voodoo’ and in each you’ll find imaginative re-workings of classics like margaritas, tiki favourites and green-fairy loaded mind meddlers.
The Port and The GrassMarket
If you fancy discovering Edinburgh cocktail bars out of the city centre then you should definitely consider heading over to the port of Leith, which has become a very popular drinking and eating destination in the last few years and a serious destination on the Edinburgh nightlife map. Not only does it now host some of the best restaurants in Scotland, such as Martin Wisharts and The Kitchin, but its also home to Bond No.9 and the fabulous cocktail bar at the Malmaison Hotel. Bond No.9 is a magnificent location to sit back and sip your favourite cocktail creation plus it also boasts Scotland’s biggest range of Absinthes. The bar has a very “cool” vibe with a live DJ spinning most nights and several of its fabulous cocktails are based on Absinthe, such as its House creation the Red Fairy, which is a blend of Absente absinthe, Creme de Fraise, St Germain Elderflower Liqueur, lifted with Fresh Lemon and Cranberry Juices. They also have their own Absinthe fountain, which they will bring out on request. Whilst you`re in the area, we recommend skipping over to the boutique Malmaison hotel, situated right on Leith Shore, which has a great range of cocktails, fabulous outside area to chill and and experienced & friendly bar staff.
Although the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh is now mainly associated with Stag Dos and Hen Parties, for cocktails lovers, it is well worth the visit as you will find a couple of fantastic Edinburgh cocktail bars. Under the Stairs is situated in a basement on Merchant Street and can be viewed as a refreshing departure from the Georges Street glossy bars. This place serves one of the best Mojitos in town and also does a damn fine Daiquiri. With a laidback but still energetic vibe, friendly staff that are happy to let you linger over your drinks and a warm and welcoming atmosphere, Under the Stairs is a quirky gem not to be missed. Also in the Grassmarket area is Dragonfly, one of most impressive of all Edinburgh bars. Over-sized chandeliers sit alongside a chinoiserie mural and karate wallpaper, with the mirrored bar playing host to an oddball assortment of depths-of-the-attic paraphernalia. This kitsch/retro interior is only matched by the uniqueness of its cocktails, with creations such as the Raspberry Ripple, the Deep Purple and the Guinness Daiquiri, as good as you will find anywhere in Edinburgh.
So, regardless if you are a cocktail novice or a seasoned cocktail afficando looking for the next great thing, Edinburgh cocktail bars are undoubtedly worth a try and one things for sure, you will never leave the city thirsty or unimpressed.